Sunday, June 6, 2010

Striving for equality in American life
Nicolaus Mills
Friday 4 June 2010 20.00 BST

Forty-five years ago, a speech by Lyndon Johnson made affirmative action central to life in the US. It remains important

At a time when affirmative action programmes remain so controversial that President Obama seeks to protect himself from criticism by saying his daughters should not benefit from them in applying to college, we need to step back in time and remember the Lyndon Johnson speech that made affirmative action central to American life. The speech was delivered 45 years ago at the June 4, 1965, Howard University commencement.
The principal author of the speech was Richard N Goodwin, who had previously been a White House adviser for President Kennedy, but the speech was not Goodwin's alone, as he acknowledged in his memoir Remembering America. Early drafts were shown around the White House to Bill Moyers, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Jack Valenti, and later Goodwin read drafts of the speech over the phone to, among others, Martin Luther King, Roy Wilkins of the NAACP, and Whitney Young of the Urban League.

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